3 Ways to determine if your billboard is working

19 February 2015
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How can you tell that the billboard space you just purchased is making your business money?

How do you know that there will be a return on your investment?

Are you able to track the success of that advertising?

I could keep going, but I think you get my point. Spending money on billboards is not a bad idea. Far from it actually! Spending money on billboards without having the ability to track its effectiveness is however…an insanely bad idea.

Is my billboard working?If you’re like me, you work damn hard to earn money in an effort to build your business, pay the bills and support your family. For that reason, it only makes sense to invest in advertising that is actually bringing in new business and generating new sales.

For years, billboards have peppered the landscape along millions of highway miles. I’m sure you’ve seen them. It’s almost impossible not to see them! I say almost, because after prolonged exposure to billboards, we actually start to ignore them. You see, as we drive past the same rectangle in the sky over and over again, our brain starts to block the visual reception and acknowledgement of their image.

We adapt to our surroundings by ignoring past distractions that are no longer relevant to our mission (i.e. getting to work, school, home or the grocery store).

But despite our ability to pull down a mental blinder on the faces of billboards, many businesses and organizations still use them as a tool for promoting their brand and/or message. Now I know that so far this post screams…”NO MORE BILLBOARDS,” but that’s not the point of my ramblings. Many people have stated that they’ve received a massive return on their investment when choosing to buy space on a billboard. They laud the potential for high visibility, massive traffic count and unbeatable impressions.

And if it works for them, I say keep doing it.

But how do we know if they are working for us?

Tracking the success of your billboard is simple, but often overlooked step in the ad space selection process. Sometimes the idea of seeing your name in eight foot letters is enough motivation to whip out the old checkbook! But before you commit, I want you to think about what I am proposing.

Here are 3 ways you can track the response rate of your billboard.

Google Analytics

Have an IT or web design team in-house? Great! Ask them to attach a string of analytic code to a page on your website that’s going to be devoted to the URL specified on your billboard.

For example: “Visit www.XXXXX.com/SALE55 for more information!”

That page on your site can only be accessed by typing in that specific URL. Now using your Google Analytics, you can keep a count on visitors, time of day they accessed the site and how long they hung around on your page to learn more about the offer. Be sure to keep your results pure by not promoting that same landing page on other forms of advertisement or billboards.

If you are using multiple billboards to promote the same sale, create a carbon-copy page and change the URL to something other than the one noted above. And then attach a separate tracking code to that page.

Use an 800 number

I like the company www.ifbyphone.com. They have a ton of options that let the user choose dedicated 800 numbers that can be placed on a billboard, and then tracked. The toll-free number can be forwarded to any land line. Then, when someone calls about your sale or promotion, you can see if they are calling the number associated with your billboard.

They also offer a ton of additional options that can yield some massively sexy analytics that will prevent you from wasting money on unproductive ad-space.

Use a keyword

“When you call, be sure to mention the keyword PARTYTIME and receive an additional 10% off your purchase!”

This is probably the easiest and most cost-effective method to track your success. You’re pretty smart, and can probably already figure out how this technique works. Just be sure to keep a pen and paper handy to keep a count of how many times a customer calls and refers to that specific keyword.

And don’t be afraid of them not using the word in response to your ad. If it saves them money…they’ll say it! Also, take time to educate your sales staff and anyone else who answers the phone, and instruct them not to reveal the keyword in an effort to save the caller money. This will muddy the results.

The only complaint, which wasn’t even valid, that I’ve ever received about this method, was that a business experienced a situation where one person saw the billboard, began to text the keyword to like twenty people and then instructed them to take advantage of the deal. The business owner was concerned that this action would void their ability to track the results of their billboard driven sales.

Ummmm…who cares! That guy just rammed twenty more sales down your throat. I’d say your concerns are completely unjustified. Oh yea, and the billboard worked!

So there you have it folks, three simple ways to prevent a massive leak of wasted billboard advertising dollars.

Advertising in the right places is key to any businesses success. But being able to track the results in an effective and calculable manner, is what makes the difference between running a business that’s successful for five years or twenty-five years.

I guess it’s only a matter of how hungry you are to win.

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P.S. If you were able to learn something from this post, I’d ask that you send me a quick email to andy@bentbusinessmarketing.com. And in the subject line, please type in the words AWESOME SAUCE.

Thanks for reading my bent business babble 🙂 ~Andy Sokolovich

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